The COVID-19 Waste Colloquium an interdisciplinary and international forum for scholars undertaking research at the intersections of waste (in its broadest material and conceptual sense) and COVID-19. The monthly colloquium assembles a diverse range of fields and disciplines – including geography, STS, political economy, gender studies, literature, and anthropology. The colloquium has three key aims: 1) To discuss recently published research at the intersections of waste and COVID-19; 2) To share work-in-progress; and 3) To collectively develop more transboundary and interdisciplinary understandings of the relations between COVID-19 and waste.

Each colloquium will be centred on a broad theme. It will be 90 minutes in duration and split into two key parts: 1) Reading – a discussion of newly published research, and 2) Work-in-progress – informal presentations of unfolding projects, followed by discussion. Participants are situated in multiple time zones and have a range of different caring responsibilities. To make this forum as inclusive as possible, the colloquium will be held on Zoom at two alternating times: 13.00 GMT and 07.00 GMT. We will be taking a reflexive approach, and reviewing the structure and aims of the colloquium as it progresses. Send an email to Angeliki Balayannis if you would like to join the mailing list:

Upcoming meetings:

January: Matters of Management (Jan 8, 2021 13:00 GMT)

Kalina, M and Tilley, E (2020) “This is our next problem”: cleaning up from the COVID-19 response. Waste Management 108: 202-205

Kahlert, S and Bening CR (2020) Plastic recycling after the global pandemic: resurgence or regression? Resources, Conservation & Recycling 160: 104948

Work in progress: Dr Mathieu Durand (Le Mans Université) and Dr Hélène Beraud (University Gustave Eiffel) will be discussing their current research on the impact of COVID-19 on public waste management services in France.

November: Queer Waste (NOV 27, 2020 07:00 GMT)

Reading: Sikora, T. (2008) ‘Queer/Waste’, in Rachwal, T. (ed.) Rubbish, Waste and Litter: Culture and Its Refuse/al. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo SWPS Academica, pp. 376-388.

Work in progress: ‘The worst pandemic in human history’? Queer waste and the politics of (in)visibility, from HIV/AIDS to COVID-19. Daniel Fountain PhD Researcher, Feminism, Sexual Politics & Visual Culture, Loughborough University (UK).

Abstract: Several politicians and medical professionals have termed COVID-19 ‘the worst pandemic in human history’ but to do so is to insult the memory of the 33 million people who, to this day, have died from HIV/AIDS across the world, leading many authors to refer to it as a ‘global pandemic’ (as opposed to an ‘epidemic’). Furthermore, news articles continue to make simplistic comparisons between HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. Certainly, both situations have been shaped by institutional lies and lack of appropriate government response. However, the two are not neatly comparable and there are stark differences between the context of both, particularly in relation to public visibility and the ways in which queer lives have especially been marginalised or treated as waste. Using several case studies, from media coverage, the handling of ‘contaminated’ bodies on New York’s Hart Island, and the erasure of queer voices throughout lockdown, this talk will focus less on the character of each virus and more on the underlying social and political conditions that were, and still are, in existence.

October: Introductions (Oct 30, 2020 13:00 GMT)

Reading: in the first meeting we will take the time to introduce ourselves and our work. To accommodate introductions from all participants, there will be no set reading for the month.

Work in progress:the organisers will briefly present their work on the COVID-19 Waste Project as a way of generating discussion around the different ways various projects intersect and diverge. 

Colloquium reference list:

Radomska, M., Mehrabi, T. and Lykke, N. (2020) Queer Death Studies: Death, Dying and Mourning from a Queerfeminist Perspective. Australian Feminist Studies35 (104): 81-100.

Schaffer, G. (2015) Queering Waste Through Camp. Discard Studies URL:

Sikora, T. (2008) ‘Queer/Waste’, in Rachwal, T. (ed.) Rubbish, Waste and Litter: Culture and Its Refuse/al. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo SWPS Academica, pp. 376-388.